World Humanitarian Day: Spare the Humanitarian Aid Workers from Brutal Attacks

In December 2008, the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly decided to designate 19 August as World Humanitarian Day (WHD). It is the date on which a brutal terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad, in 2003, killed 22 people. WHD is to sensitise the international community about the threat that humanitarian aid workers face. We, in Different Truths (DT) salute the noble commitment of such people. We bring to you a Special Feature on WHD, in association with PVCHR, led by firebrand Human Rights activist, Lenin Raghuvanshi. In our tie up with The Significant League (TSL) and DT, we showcase 74 poems by 48 poets worldwide, on August 19. TSL is led by Dr. Ampat V. Koshy and other prominent poets. Here’s a curtain raiser of the Special Feature on WHD in Different Truths. 


“World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk.” ~ UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

Hundreds of humanitarian aid workers risk their life and limbs to help people in war, disaster and conflict zones. They often sustain injuries and are killed while rendering humanitarian assistance.

“World Humanitarian Day (WHD), which takes place every year on 19 August, recognises the aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and mobilises people to advocate for humanitarian action,” informs the UN website.

On the WHD 2016, the UN and its partners are calling for global solidarity with the more than 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to survive. Under the theme of ‘One Humanity’, WHD will highlight how the world came together in Istanbul for the World Humanitarian Summit earlier this year, and made commitments to support people affected by crisis and ensure that aid workers can safely and more effectively deliver to those in need, it was stated.

It is worth mentioning that humanitarians provide life-saving assistance to millions of people worldwide. They place their own lives at risk to help others in conflict zones and areas of natural hazards. More than 700 humanitarian workers have died or experienced the most dangerous situations while trying to help those in need. Humanitarians provide support for different world challenges such as hunger, gender-based violence, refugees and displaced people, help for children, as well as clean water and access to sanitation. 

The UN website added that in December 2008, the sixty-third session of the UN General Assembly decided to designate 19 August as World Humanitarian Day.

19 August is the date on which a brutal terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Events will be held around the world on 19 August to honour the work of humanitarian workers and to celebrate the theme of ‘One Humanity’. In New York, a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the United Nations headquarters, and a high-level event will be held in the General Assembly Hall. In addition a digital campaign will be launched on the day to raise awareness of the impossible choices that people caught in crisis face. WHD will also feature photo exhibitions and film screenings documenting the lives of those affected by conflict and disaster, it was informed.

It is pertinent to mention that WHD does not have a logo because the day does not “belong” to the UN or any other agency or organisation.  The media documents support the day by capturing images that show people helping others that are in need of assistance.

WHD in Different Truths

We, at Different Truths (DT), are observing WHD for two days. On the eve of the WHD (August 18), we present three articles. On August 19, we shall bring to you An Anthology of Poems Dedicated to WHD, a tie-up between TSL and DT.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, in his lead article, One Humanity: The Theme for the World Humanitarian Day 2016, states that the World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is the day to remember the millions of people affected by war, natural disasters, sickness, torture, organised violence and famine, and those who are working to relieve their suffering.

Archana Kaushik, in her article, World Humanitarian Day: Being Humane is the Essence of Being Human, talks about ordinary people with extraordinary courage. They emerge as the shining stars in these times of desperation, despondency and death. Violence inflicted by humans upon their fellow-beings annually causes more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide, making it one of the primary causes of mortality across the globe. In 2013, there was 61% rise in the number of people killed in terrorist attacks. Countering these trends, we find that being humane is natural.

In the article, Atrocities against Dalits: Unfolding Humanitarian Crisis in India, Amit Singh, states that a humanitarian crisis (read disaster) is defined as a singular event or a series of events that are threatening in terms of health, safety or well-being of a community or large group of people. Technically, humanitarian law is all about armed conflict, dealing with natural disaster, “seeking generally to inject a modicum of humanity into wartime by regulating the means and methods of warfare and protecting those not, or no longer, directly participating in hostilities.” International Humanitarian Law (IHL) aims primarily to limit the effects of hostilities on populations, whether civilians, detainees, the wounded, the sick, or those otherwise hors de combat.

An Anthology of Poems Dedicated to World Humanitarian Day has been edited by four eminent poets, Dr. Ampat V. Koshy, Sana Rose and Niladri Ranjit Chakraborty. Seventy four poems, by 48 poets, showcase the humane aspects of the poets from world over. Cruelty of man against his fellow beings have taken monstrous proportions. WHD is an attempt to sensitise the world community about the attacks of workers engaged in humanitarian works. Earlier, they were spared from attacks. Not anymore. War, religious or political persecution, caste and colour discriminations continue unabated. Other acts on inhumanity make it worse. Child labour, human trafficking, sexual assaults on children and women. These force millions to leave their home and hearth, for some, while many others continue to live with those who abuse them. Those who do not die are left with deep psychological scars all their lives.

We hope and trust that DT succeeds in bringing about a positive change, in sensitizing people about the humanitarian issues. Every little step counts. We are doing out two pence in #World Humanitarian Day #WHD2016

©Arindam Roy

Pix from Net.

Arindam Roy

Arindam Roy

Arindam Roy has 35 years experience in various newsrooms. He was the Managing Editor of a reputed Gurgoan-based Citizen Journalist portal and has held senior positions in several publications. As Correspondent and Bureau Chief, he has written extensively for Associated Press, Times of India, Hindustan Times and multiple news outlets. He has contributed 13 chapters to various publications. Of these, seven chapters were published in two Coffee Table Books, published by the Times Group. He is a co-author of a novel, Rivers Run Back that he penned with Joyce Yarrow. The novel was launched at the American Centre, New Delhi, on January 2015. He lives in Allahabad.
Arindam Roy